November 11, 2011
"On this Veterans Day we are reminded of the everyday reality that we owe our veterans in Vermont and across the United States the care they were promised and the benefits that they have earned in service to our country. While we have a long way to go in fulfilling those promises, I am proud that as a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee we have made some real progress in addressing our obligations to veterans," Sen. Bernie Sanders said.
"Nationally, I am extremely proud of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. It is providing educational and vocational benefits to veterans and their families. Colleges and universities are seeing a big boost in the number of veterans seeking degrees. Trade and technical schools are seeing a new influx of veterans.
"At home in Vermont, I worked with the Vermont National Guard on an outstanding outreach program to help service members and their families prepare for deployments and to meet their continuing needs after they return home. I am proud that Vermont's Military Family Outreach Program has become a model for the nation.
"I also have worked to better meet the needs of veterans who live in rural areas of the country, like Vermont, where timely access to quality health care is a major challenge. We have one of the best VA Medical Centers in the United States at White River Junction.
"We also now have five community-based outpatient clinics serving Vermont veterans. The busiest clinic in Colchester is expanding. In Newport, veterans from the Northeast Kingdom can get care at a clinic in the North Country Hospital. In Rutland, a new clinic will soon provide an additional 1,000 square feet of space. In Bennington and in Brattleboro, both facilities continue to provide timely access to quality health care in extremely nice facilities.
"In an effort to end homelessness among veterans, Vermonters are doing their part. The Dodge House in Rutland recently opened a newly refurbished section of their facility specifically to homeless women veterans. In Northfield, The Veterans' Place continues to provide housing for 20 transitioning veterans. In Winooski, the Canal Street Veterans Project is providing both short- and long-term residences for veterans and their families in one and two bedroom units. In Bradford, the Veterans Housing Project is the newest program in the state working closely with White River Junction VA Medical Center.
"Later this month, in Rutland and in White River Junction, there will be ribbon-cutting ceremonies to officially open two new Armed Forces Readiness Centers that will house some of the Vermont National Guard and Reserve units. The centers look more like colleges than armories and will provide an excellent environment for the all-volunteer service members to train, maintain their equipment and operate day-to-day operations.
"Finally, this year there is one more reason for those of us in Vermont to be especially grateful to veterans and members of the National Guard who played a huge role in helping us recover and rebuild after Hurricane Irene.
"Guard members from Vermont and other states doing what they do best, responding to provide aid, comfort and security for their families, friends and neighbors. They reopened roadways. They delivered food and water to isolated communities. They transported individuals in need of emergency medical care. When we were confronted by nature's worst, the men and women of the National Guard were at their best. Vermont has a long history of distinguished citizen soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines. Service before self is one of those Green Mountain values that make Vermonters special.
"I thank our veterans for their service to a grateful nation."